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Linking local priorities and global challenges
Updated: 49 min 48 sec ago

United in a call for higher ambition on the global biodiversity agenda

Fri, 18/09/2020 - 06:32

Ahead of the UN biodiversity summit later this month, a partnership of environment and development organisations – including IIED – are urging world leaders to ramp up ambition on action for nature, climate and development.

In June and July this year, IIED joined 27 partners – ranging from UN agencies to business groups to Indigenous Peoples’ organisations – to co-convene a series of “Virtual biodiversity dialogues”. The purpose of the dialogues? To explore some of the issues under consideration in the emerging post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and to highlight common concerns and priorities for global leaders to take into account during the negotiations.

Making the most of COVID-19 constraints

The partnership of environment and development organisations was established in anticipation of the IUCN World Conservation Congress being held in France in June 2020. The original purpose of the partnership was to co-organise a series of side events at the congress, located in a joint ’pavilion’.

All events were to focus on the new framework due to be agreed at the Conference of the Parties (CoP) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), that was due to be held in October 2020.

COVID-19 obviously put a halt to both the IUCN and CBD gatherings but the ’Post-2020 Pavilion Partnership’ decided to make the most of these global meetings being postponed and organised a series of online events instead.

Overall, nearly 900 people from all corners of the world participated in the series of 10 dialogues discussing issues ranging from the scope and content of ambitious global goals for nature to governance for transformative change; from synergies with other conventions and the Sustainable Development Goals to intergenerational equity.

Equity and justice at the heart of a new biodiversity agreement

Perhaps one of the most significant outcomes of the dialogues, from an IIED perspective, was the clear message that rights, equity and justice must lie at the heart of the post-2020 framework. These are issues that IIED has long advocated for, particularly through our work on equity in the context of protected area management. We recognise the urgent need to tackle biodiversity loss and to protect the world’s remaining intact habitats.

But efforts to protect biodiversity that ride rough-shod over local people’s rights to own and manage their resources are not acceptable, and we share concerns with human rights groups as to the potential implications of calls for 30% of land to be protected by 2030.

The dialogues made clear that this year must mark the start of a pivotal moment in human history when we reset our relationship with nature. COVID-19 has shown just how catastrophically misaligned we currently are. Last year’s IPBES Global Assessment highlighted how nature underpins the delivery of all the SDGs. And our own work emphasises the development implications of biodiversity loss.

The drivers of both biodiversity loss and the emergence of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 lie in our mismanagement of nature – in unfettered land conversion and habitat destruction driven by our global food system.

Reflecting this, a further clear message from the dialogues was that world leaders must adopt an ambitious global goal for nature that commits the world to halting further loss of nature and restoring what we have already lost. Participants discussed the concept of ‘nature positive’ as a parallel to ‘carbon neutral’ in the climate negotiations and in one session agreed we would like to see a global ambition for an equitable, carbon-neutral and nature-positive world.

Calling on world leaders to do better

Achieving this ambition would require transformative change in many areas. In our financial systems, food systems, trade systems, and in governance – from international to local levels. If COVID-19 has shown us anything at all it is that transformative action is possible when the risks of inaction are perceived to be great enough. Governments can take actions that previously might have been thought impossible.

One of the objectives of the virtual biodiversity dialogues was therefore to recognise the moment of opportunity that COVID-19 presents amid catastrophe and to collectively craft some key messages for the UN Summit on Biodiversity on 30 September. The heads of the partner organisations have signed a call to action (PDF) aimed at the world leaders participating in the summit.

The call outlines four key measures we would like leaders to take, to deliver an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and contribute to the achievement of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.

The Post-2020 Pavilion partners are not the only organisations issuing a call to action ahead of the UN Biodiversity Summit. Other sectors of society are also calling for ambitious, collective action for nature, climate and development including (but not limited to) business, humanitarian organisations and youth.

Will world leaders respond to these calls or will it be just business as usual? Critical agreements on nature and climate will not be forged until next year. But this month’s summit provides an opportunity for heads of state and government to set the tone for the negotiations to come.

Let’s hope that the tone in the statements that will emerge from the UN summit reflects the high ambition we need, and is accompanied by commitments to real action and change (yes, even the transformative stuff), not the lip service we’ve been used to.

Read the joint press release where hundreds of organisations – including businesses; environment and development organisations, humanitarian organisations; faith groups; local and regional governments; Indigenous Peoples; and youth – call on world leaders to ‘Act on nature’.

COVID-19 and the housing crisis in the global South – time for change

Thu, 17/09/2020 - 06:01

COVID-19 has highlighted the significance of housing for citizen wellbeing, particularly in the global South. IIED is hosting an online event on Monday, 5 October to discuss what we have learned from previous interventions and COVID-19 to help tackle the housing crisis.

Housing is critical for wellbeing. It provides safety and security. It is the place for family life. It is also the place where, for the most part, people take care of themselves and their families, and sleep and eat. It is the location from which people access essential services including water, sanitation and energy. For many people, it is also a place of work.

There is limited access to adequate housing particularly in the global South where an estimated one billion people live in informal settlements. Their homes have inadequate access to basic services, and their dwellings may be built of rudimentary materials. Many households (one third or more of the residents in many cities) are renting a single room.

The risk of eviction is very real, frequently because incomes are too low to pay the required rent. Other risks include fire – particularly in high density neighbourhoods – and flooding, which have been exacerbated by adverse climate change.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of housing for citizens' health and wellbeing. It has shone a light on the essential nature of public service provision in high density areas, where good health can't be secured without adequate access to water and sanitation. The crisis has also highlighted the multiple difficulties faced by those living in over-crowded homes where social distancing cannot be achieved and where high-risk individuals may not be protected.

To coincide with World Habitat Day and the publication of the latest issue of Environment & Urbanization (E&U), this online event on Monday, 5 October 2020 will bring together E&U contributors to discuss the nature of the current housing crisis and its impact on households, primarily in the global South.

What have we learned from COVID-19 about the challenges and risks for households in informal settlements? In order to do more, what can we learn from previous efforts to address housing needs?

The politics at play in Vietnam’s food system

Wed, 16/09/2020 - 10:48

Guest blogger Christophe Béné discusses how perception, personal beliefs and values can overrule science and evidence in policymaking – and how this is influencing policies and crisis narratives around food safety in Vietnam.

Scientists and academics like the idea that policymakers base their decisions on science and evidence; it is reassuring to assume these decisions are based on facts. It also helps scientists justify their work – making them feel like they are contributing to the decision making process.

The reality is more nuanced. There are certainly examples of policies that have been based on evidence (e.g. governments banning smoking in public places due to the ill effects on health). But too often we see policymakers base their decisions on perception, personal beliefs and values, and professional or political agendas. We also see how ‘crisis’ events receive more attention than those appearing less urgent. 

So do those observations also apply to the political agenda around food systems? That “our food systems are failing us” and “something needs to be done” is now well documented. Across low, middle or high-income countries, poor diets are responsible for more deaths than sex, drugs, alcohol and tobacco combined. But what shapes policymakers decisions around food systems? What drives their agenda?

Case study: Vietnam’s food safety crisis

These questions led a group of social scientists to investigate the dynamics around food system policies in Vietnam. Vietnam, its food system and associated policies are a particularly interesting case study – a prime example of a fast ‘transitioning’ middle-income country, where steep increases in incomes and rapid urbanisation are leading to significant changes in lifestyle and diets.  

Based on face to face and online interviews of key stakeholders including government officials, policymakers and national and international experts, the study uncovered a series of interesting findings. First, it showed that the food system policy agenda in Vietnam is only partially informed by evidence, and that lobbying and advocacy are highly influential. While this result was not, in light of the above discussion, totally unexpected, more surprising was that all the different stakeholders who were interviewed (including researchers) readily admitted this reality. 

The analysis also showed food safety in Vietnam to be high on the food system policy agenda. In the past 10 years or so, Vietnam’s national media has reported on numerous food scares and food safety is an ongoing public and political concern.  

The study reveals, however, that anxieties around food safety are not necessarily warranted. Compared with countries from the same region and those of a similar level of development, Vietnam has one of the highest-scoring in terms of food quality and safety. In 2017, for instance, Vietnam scored 98 (+17 above the average) in the ‘quality and safety’ indicator of the Global Food Security Index. Vietnam’s score was the best of the eight countries that were compared in this analysis

Behind food safety, a bigger agenda…

So why do Vietnam’s policy makers exaggerate food safety concerns in this way? The answer lies in their interests to ’modernise’ Vietnam’s food system. In their view, a ‘modern country’ needs a ‘modern food system’ and across the nation, politicians are on a big push to promote supermarkets. Meanwhile, traditional wet markets and informal street vendors – deemed inefficient and outmoded – are being closed down and removed.

Entwined in the discussions on modernisation is the issue of food safety. Wet markets and informal vendors are perceived to be unhygienic and unsafe compared with supermarkets (even though data suggest a more mixed reality). Playing the food safety card helps policy makers ‘justify’ the forced closure of wet markets and their replacement by supermarkets.  

Tunnel vision

The push to modernise Vietnam’s food system is disconnected from the reality on the ground. Wet markets and informal vendors are the convenient and affordable food source (in particular for fresh vegetables and fruits) for the majority. Many of Vietnam’s urban poor cannot afford to shop in supermarkets. Closing these traditional markets and stalls threatens the food security of the population. Yet the authorities choose to ignore it. 

As long as food safety is chalked up as a national crisis, policy-makers seem unable to engage in longer-term strategic issues around food systems. Only 2% of the policy makers interviewed flagged nutrition as a priority, even though overweight children under 5 in urban areas increased by more than 160% between 2000 and 2014, and obesity in the urban adult population had increased by 126% in 20 years – to reach 22% in 2015. 

Policymakers need to move beyond the crisis narrative on food safety and re-orientate their agenda toward the longer-term structuring issues of the food systems and their underlying drivers. 

This blog has been adapted from its original version. With thanks to Teresa Corcoran for editorial contributions. 

Working in partnership towards more inclusive Sustainable Energy for All

Tue, 15/09/2020 - 06:35

IIED is actively working with a range of collaborators to raise awareness, secure financing and ensure smart partnerships in order to achieve universal access to sustainable energy, especially for the poorest households.

Energy is a key enabler for development and the seventh Sustainable Development Goal, which calls for universal access to sustainable energy by 2030. IIED and partners have been working for years to improve energy efficiency and renewable use.

Launched in 2012, the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative aims to improve the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable people by supporting universal access to modern energy services, increasing the share of renewable energy sources around the world, and improving energy efficiency. 

To advance energy access, SE4ALL works to build partnerships and evidence, benchmark progress and amplify the voices of those energy-poor households. Partners committed to accomplishing SDG7 include companies like Simusolar in Tanzania, NGOs like Hivos and ENERGIA, governments like the Kenyan government, and donors such as the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and Efficiency for Access.

IIED is an active member of the People Centered Accelerator, a voluntary partnership within SE4ALL of like-minded organisations advancing gender equality, social inclusion and women’s empowerment in energy access.

Leaving no one behind

Together with partners, IIED is looking at the different levels of finance and delivery models, from investor down to end-users, to identify ways to direct larger volumes of money towards more inclusive financing mechanisms and instruments. More investments flowing towards gender-conscious projects and programmes can enable more inclusive energy access and ensure no one is left behind.

The institute continues to work with different stakeholders interested in being a part of the SE4ALL initiative to raise awareness on approaches that benefit the poorest households – including through our inclusive energy planning approach, and in a strategic partnership with Hivos and ENERGIA as the lead research advisor for a global advocacy network focused on renewable energy access and gender.

IIED is also co-founder and steering group member of ACCESS (Alliance of CSOs for Clean Energy Access), a civil society coalition pushing for transparency and representation of the most vulnerable groups at national level across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

While we are nowhere near reaching a trajectory to achieve SDG7, universal access by 2030, smarter collaborations will play a crucial role to accelerate energy access.

Addressing gendered and other inequalities will be central to COVID-19 recovery

Fri, 11/09/2020 - 08:23

In the latest in our series on lessons from the coronavirus pandemic, we look at how COVID-19 has increased gender inequality and the need to tackle multiple forms of disadvantage in the global South.

Beyond COVID-19: grassroots visions of change

This article is part of an IIED series that brings together forward-looking responses on specific themes in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, drawing on our partners’ insights and providing a platform for voices from the global South.

Here, IIED researcher Alice Sverdlik looks at the impacts of the virus on women and girls.

Lamented as a ‘disaster for feminism’, COVID-19 has magnified and exacerbated several inequalities including gender inequality. Men often have higher rates of mortality and COVID-19 hospitalisations than women. At the same time, the pandemic’s social and economic impacts have been particularly dire for women and girls.

Due to COVID-19, 47m more women globally will live in poverty in 2021. The pandemic led to a profoundly gender-inequitable combination of declining paid work – women are overrepresented in informal jobs and hard-hit sectors like tourism – with increased caring burdens and limited childcare

COVID-19’s burdens for women and girls can differ based on local contexts, policy interventions, and intersectional disadvantages. Particularly vulnerable groups may include migrant female workers, women with disabilities, displaced people, and younger men and women (who are at greater risk of lost livelihoods).

The pandemic’s multiple threats to women’s livelihoods and wellbeing, as outlined below, will urgently require locally-grounded research and inclusive interventions co-designed with women, men, girls, and boys. 

Short and long-term impacts on women and girls

Lockdowns were associated with alarming evidence of heightened violence against women and girls, which remains under-reported. Many still struggle to access women’s refuges and maternal healthcare services that were already underfunded before the pandemic. This could have major long-term consequences, such as an increase in unsafe births and rising numbers of girls leaving school early. 

There is much that we still do not know on COVID-19’s impacts due to the lack of disaggregated data on age, sex, race/ethnicity, disability, and socioeconomic factors. Policymakers urgently require more detailed information to support a gender-equitable recovery.

COVID-19, women’s employment, and unpaid care burdens  

Women’s employment has fallen more sharply than men’s and may recover more slowly. Many women and men in the global South work in the informal economy, where adequate healthcare, sick leave, and other social protections are rare.

Both male and female informal workers faced stark choices between staying at home with a risk of going hungry, or violating coronavirus restrictions if they go to work. But it is women who are typically concentrated in highly precarious informal jobs; many women work in sectors that were especially affected such as retail, hospitality and the food trade

Women also comprise more than 70% of the healthcare sector globally, including community health workers and other frontline providers at elevated risk of COVID-19 infection.

Furthermore, women have typically shouldered the rising care burdens (cleaning and tending to the sick, for example) linked to lockdowns, school closures, and COVID-19’s health impacts. Although there is evidence that men are increasingly helping with childcare (such as from Nairobi and the Philippines), women and girls still provide the vast majority of care. 

Women and girls often rely on unclean energy sources (for cooking, pumping water and so on), which may contribute to respiratory illness and heighten the difficulties of tending to the sick during the pandemic.

Care duties are also far more challenging in the absence of adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Not only do WASH deficits result in gendered time poverty and stymie vital efforts to maintain hygiene during the pandemic, it is also difficult to socially distance when queuing for water (particularly in dense settlements). Women and girls may even risk gender-based violence as they walk to access water or fuels, including in refugee camps and other insecure settings.

Creating farsighted, equitable opportunities for women and girls

Amid such overlapping challenges, it is important to recognise women’s agency and to address multiple forms of disadvantage. Women’s grassroots organisations are already helping to promote COVID-19 recovery and create new narratives for a ‘new normal.’ Gender-responsive, age-sensitive social protection can help cushion the pandemic’s impacts.

Other priorities for a feminist recovery (PDF) include promoting food security, WASH, and universal healthcare; combating violence against women; and measures to tackle deep-seated social and economic inequalities.

Resources:

Below is a selection of online resources about gender equality and COVID-19. We will update this list during the coming months:

Web platforms: Gender and COVID-19 and feminist response to COVID-19

What do we know about women and COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries from the peer-reviewed literature? University of California San Diego blog on gender and COVID research in global South 

COVID-19: the gendered impacts of the outbreak: article in The Lancet

UN-Women’s data on COVID-19

Bringing gender equality to the core of employment recovery: International Labour Organisation podcast 

Gender and power in COVID-19: recording of WIEGO and IIHS webinar

Huairou Commission: grassroots women's network identifying strategies to address the pandemic 

Mama Kwa Mama (woman-to-woman): a Kenyan fund that raises money via professional women's networks to help people living in informal settlements

Read more:

Our collection about coronavirus examines some of the emerging impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the people and places where we work.

How regional and national capital cities influence urban change

Thu, 10/09/2020 - 06:04

David Satterthwaite discusses how building government institutions in capital cities contributes to urban change.

Cities have always been associated with centres of political power. Most of the world’s 100 largest cities in 2020 are either national capitals or capitals for the next tier of government – state or provincial. Most have been important cities for centuries.

Prospering national and state capitals have been due largely to their key roles in the national and global economy. This blog looks at how urban change is influenced by building the institutions of government in national and regional capitals, providing public services and supporting lower levels of government.

All levels of government have bureaucracies and public service providers, located in the urban centres designated as the (national/regional/local) capital. Their influence on the capital depends not only on their policies and provision of public services but also on the number of public employees, their incomes and their demand for goods and local services.

These can be limited as local governments have very few (mostly low income) employees and lack the power, resources and capacities to meet their responsibilities. But they can have very large roles, especially in national and regional (state, provincial) capitals. The national capital generally houses the employees and bureaucracies of other levels of government (regional and municipal) as well as their own.

This blog series reflects a planned new edition of David Satterthwaite's landmark 2007 working paper, 'The Transition to a Predominantly Urban World and its Underpinnings'. The updated edition will be published later this year. 

Many nations have a substantial proportion of employees (15-40%) in the public sector; in 2013 the OECD nations’ average was 21%. These include those working in public services across the nation (such as schools, healthcare systems, the police) and those concentrated in regional or national capitals. In China in 2003, 33% of employees were in the public sector.

Delhi’s ascent up the ranks of the world’s largest cities is surely powered by the job opportunities in providing goods and services to the various layers of government. In 2011/12, a fifth of Delhi’s workers were in “Public Administration, Education, Health & Others" (PDF).

Many state/provincial governments also have large public sectors because they are so large; in large population nations, states have larger populations than most nations. India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, had 200 million inhabitants in 2011.  

Building government

The end of colonial rule drove the rapid growth of Africa’s capital cities. The need for now independent governments triggered the building of institutions of governance that nation-states needed – for instance, national government departments and ministries, judiciaries, police and the armed forces.

The national capitals of now independent nations house the embassies of other nations and the offices of aid agencies, development banks and international NGOs. There was also the demand for goods and services from this new concentration of government institutions, civil servants, politicians and diplomats, as well as other city populations. 

This is also generally the case for regional/provincial/state and city and municipal governments. These are often delegated responsibilities for public services – for healthcare and schools, public transport and waste collection, and for infrastructure (piped water, sewers, drains, paved roads, electricity grids, street lighting, telecommunications systems).

Capitals/large cities

Thirty-four of the world’s 100 largest cities in 2020 are national capitals and 46 are state/provincial capitals. So are large cities designated as national or regional capitals? Or is being a regional or national capital a stimulus for some cities to become large cities? And what about regional capitals that do not become large cities?

For national and many regional governments, public employees and public service providers form an important core of people with livelihoods, incomes and demands concentrated in their capitals.

In many nations, the list of urban centres and their relative sizes corresponds closely to the hierarchy of national to state or provincial to district to sub-district capitals, especially for those nations lacking large urban economies.

The regional capitals that do not become large cities are mostly in regions with relatively low per capita incomes and levels of urbanisation and small populations. But the first two of these do not apply in the US where few of its largest cities are state capitals. Most Chinese cities in the hundred largest cities in 2020 list are provincial capitals (17 out of 26). For India, seven out of nine were state capitals – the two exceptions being Surat and Pune.

Let's take a closer look at different categories of capital cities:

  • Multiple capitals: In many nations, the institutions of national government are divided between different cities: in South Africa, Pretoria is the administrative and executive capital, Cape Town the legislative capital and Bloemfontein the judicial capital.
     
  • Moving capitals: Some capitals have moved or are in the process of moving including Cairo and Jakarta. In some nations, official capitals moved but much of government did not – as in Côte d'Ivoire with Yamoussoukro and Abidjan, in Tanzania with Dodoma and Dar es Salaam (although the current government is demanding that all the government should move).

    Former national capitals may have lost importance but Kolkata (lost national capital to Delhi in 1931), Rio de Janeiro (lost to Brasilia in 1960), Karachi (lost to Islamabad in 1959) and Lagos (lost to Abuja in 1991) are still among the world’s 25 largest cities.
     
  • Historical influence: Most national and regional capitals were designated as such before they became what we would today call large cities. But at that time, they were often ‘large’ compared with other urban centres. 

    There are so many examples in history (going back millennia) of capital cities changing in response to political changes – including wars between political entities that are today part of larger nations.

    Morocco’s capital has moved many times over the last 1300 years, mostly between Fez, Marrakesh, Meknes and Rabat (all important cities today with Rabat and Fez the two largest cities). The capital of Iran moved many times in the last 2,500  years, mostly between Susa, Persepolis, Antioch, Tabriz, Isfahan, Mashhad, Shiraz and Tehran (the last five cities on this list are Iran’s five largest cities in 2020).

    Most of the national and regional capitals within the 100 largest cities list in 2020 have long histories of being important cities. Being a national capital (and the largest city in the nation) many centuries ago is what made many of the world’s largest cities so successful.

    Being a national capital brought high demand for a wide range of goods and services – the scale of which depended on the wealth and size of the court and the government. It was also the place where government revenues were managed, and contracts or permissions had to be negotiated.

    Capitals of or within England include Rendlesham (capital of East Anglia during part of the 7th century), Chelmsford (capital for a week when the king and government moved here after quelling the peasants' revolt), Winchester, Colchester (under the Romans) and Dorchester on Thames. For these, being a historic capital did not lay the foundation for being a large city.

The next few blogs will look “outside the large cities” at the demographic, economic and political/administrative importance of the tens of thousands of urban centres that are not large cities.

What’s needed to halt threats to rural land rights in Cameroon

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 06:19
A new briefing explores the gap between statuary and customary land tenure systems in Cameroon, and suggests ways to advance land reform so that the rights of all are protected.

Land tenure insecurity is a problem across rural Cameroon. Rural and indigenous communities enjoy customary land tenure rights, but these are barely recognised by Cameroon’s legislation. 

This misalignment between statuary and customary land rights has caused clashes between communities and companies, putting at risk the livelihoods, food security and the cultural survival of rural people.

Since the 1980s, organisations have aimed to address the issue of land rights by trialling a series of initiatives, but none has achieved sustainable solutions.

A new briefing produced by IIED, the Centre pour l’Environment et le Dévelopment (CED) and the Réssau de Lutte contre la Faim (RELUFA) evaluates these initiatives and suggests ways to advance the land reform process. The document has been produced in both English and French

The publication highlights that threats to rural land happen due to the law’s failure to recognise pre-colonial land rights, the lack of effective local governance accountability, and other factors such as population growth or the scarcity of arable land, which increase competition between land holders.

Authors Sandrine Kouba, Amaelle Seigneret and IIED’s Emilie Beauchamp and Brendan Schwartz discuss the failures of existing approaches to securing improved land rights for all communities in Cameroon, including the formalisation of individual land rights, the use of dialogue platforms to clarify rules and the establishment of community forests.

In order to enhance rural land tenure security effectively, the authors outline a series of points for policymakers. Cameroon’s law reform should:

  • Recognise land tenure rights, such as customary and collective land ownership
  • Better support and regulate the behaviour of traditional authorities
  • Create platforms that promote dialogue among land users and tenure holders to resolve land use conflict, and
  • Harmonise legal provisions found across the land and sectoral natural resource laws.

This briefing has been produced as part of the 'LandCam: securing land and resource rights and improving governance in Cameroon' project

Loss and damage in Rwanda: a young climate activist reports

Thu, 03/09/2020 - 06:27

On 8 September 2020, IIED and ICCCAD are hosting a webinar on climate-related loss and damage in the least developed countries. Here one of the speakers, Ineza Umuhoza Grace, reports on how climate change is impacting Rwanda.

The changes in my country’s climate and the impacts on me, my family and our communities have convinced me that we need immediate, urgent action to address loss and damage if we want to achieve sustainable development.

I was born and raised in Rwanda. For most of my life, I have lived in the outskirts of Kigali, our capital city. But I have family members in the north and went to university in the south, a privilege that allowed me to witness first hand the way climate change is impacting my home country.

During my lifetime, the temperature in Rwanda has risen, with records showing that from 1971 to 2016 the mean temperature increased between 1.4C and 2.5C. Climate change brings prolonged droughts followed by intense rainfall, the impacts of which threaten human safety and economic development (PDF).

This is deeply worrying, given Rwanda is already one of the world’s least developed countries. We have limited capacity to protect our people’s lives and livelihoods. 

The most recent period of intense rainfall in Rwanda began in December 2019. It lasted until mid-May 2020. While the rain was predicted, its intensity was not. It led to flooding and the deaths of more than 130 people. The rain and floods eroded the soil, killed livestock, destroyed crops and damaged many of our roads, bridges, markets and houses.

The losses were most pronounced for rural communities, hitting small-scale farmers and low-income families, who already face so many challenges. With floods washing away crops and damaging roads, how can people get to market? How can they feed their families? How can our people achieve sustainable development?

Agriculture under threat

Rural Rwandans who rely on the land for their food and livelihoods are particularly vulnerable. Not only does intensive rainfall destroy crops, it also impacts soil fertility. Land degradation affects the whole community, diminishing incomes and wellbeing. Agriculture employs 62% of Rwandans: climate change puts all these people at risk.  

Many people are being displaced. My own family, who live in the northern Musanze district, were forced to move to a new region. More than 1,000 families were forced to relocate to save their lives.

My family had a small and cosy house, with a kitchen, living room and three bedrooms, but they had to leave with just their clothes in bags, to be allocated space in a communal house. Such stories are far too common and I don’t want them to repeat.

Damaged infrastructure

Some impacts are repairable, at a cost. The floods destroyed at least 64 bridges, 124 roads and numerous health centres, and 13 water supply systems were damaged. The people depending on these facilities were already struggling to meet their basic needs. 

Losing infrastructure feels personal to me: I travelled 12km to get to school because there was no proper local school. I know education is a privilege, and not accessible to many kids in developing countries. 

Climate change is making such barriers harder to overcome. Climate change impacts from January to April 2020 cost Rwanda at least US$13 million, money that could have been used to build schools, hospitals, markets and roads. 

Women and girls are hit hardest

When our infrastructure is damaged, the burden falls disproportionately on rural women and young girls. Some 76% of Rwandan women rely on farming as their primary source of income.

Rural women are culturally bound to manage the wellbeing and food security of their households. Fetching cooking wood is a daily activity for every rural woman, and young girls often don’t go to school until after they have collected water and prepared meals.

Droughts and flooding make these tasks  harder. When floods wash away agricultural incomes, it’s the women and young girls who are left with nothing.

Irreparable losses

The irreparable losses of climate change are devastating. In 2018, floods and landslides killed 254 people, and 4,796 homes had to be abandoned. 

These impacts are often referred to as “climate change loss and damage”, meaning climate impacts that people are unable to cope with or adapt to. Vulnerable populations do not have the capacity to cope, lack the resources to effectively adapt, and are already experiencing losses and damage as the result of climate change.

What can we do?

As a young climate change activist, I want to see innovative approaches that will enable sustainable development. We need to challenge current paradigms whereby foreign actors pre-determine areas of intervention for building climate resilience in my country, with minimal/controlled participation by the people of Rwanda. 

We need to eradicate the climate change knowledge gap, and go from simply recording disasters to understanding their far-reaching impacts on people and ecosystems. 

We need to strengthen the institutional capacity of governments and civil societies in least developed countries through collaboration with partners. 

Development partners should address the root causes of community vulnerability, simultaneously taking a bottom-up and top-down approach, by, for example, addressing the economic aspects (transport, markets) and also education.

I hope to see organisations invest in programmes that strengthen the resilience of low-income rural families, especially women and young girls. For example, projects that listen to and hear the voices of vulnerable families and empower them to design solutions that draw on their unique local and indigenous knowledge, and provide an opportunity to work with partners on implementation.

Loss and damage has become a reality in Rwanda. It is undermining our economic and social development, and rural women and girls are at the frontline. An urgent response can begin by collecting data on loss and damage, exposing the gaps that are not being addressed and calling for action at the national and international level.  

  • Ineza Umuhoza Grace is among the speakers at a webinar on Tuesday, 8 September that will feature least developed countries' national experts sharing their research and lived experience of loss and damage. Sign up and get more details.

Organisers offer busy events programme in the countdown to CBA14

Mon, 31/08/2020 - 07:50
The organisers of CBA14 are hosting a range of innovative side events in the run-up to the main CBA conference in September - including many sessions that are open to everyone.

As part of their commitment to innovation and inclusivity, the organisers of CBA14 are hosting a wide range of pre-conference events.  Many of these sessions are public events, open to all. 

The 14th International Conference on Community-based Adaptation (CBA14) will take place online from 21-25 September 2020.

During the countdown to the conference, CBA partners are hosting ‘meet and greet’ sessions with leading practitioners and researchers, round-table discussions on adaptation technologies and Nature-based solutions, an introductory workshop for the hugely popular CBA14 Dragon’s Den session and opportunities to network and get to know other conference participants.  

You can review the CBA14 side-events below. Sign-up for individual sessions using the registration links.  

Event list:Introduction to the CBA14 Dragon’s Den

Date: Wednesday, 2 September 2020
Time: 08:00-09:00 (BST)
Type:  Open to everyone

Dragon’s Den sessions offer the chance to  learn how to develop and present proposals for funding for adaptation projects. Join this preview event to find out more.

Roundtables on nature-based solutions (NbS) and adaptation technology

Four one-hour discussions will provide an opportunity for those interested in Nbs and adaptation technology to get to know each other and learn about projects implemented around the world. Numbers will be capped at 12 participants to enable meaningful conversations.

These discussions are open to the public so please register early to secure your spot!

  • Roundtable on nature-based solutions (NbS) and adaptation technology: Marine Environments

Details: Wetlands International has been working with local communities throughout Asia to upscale coastal and marine environment restoration technologies to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change. Come to learn about how it works and share your own stories and adaptation technologies in the coastal and marine environment sector!

Wetland International has been working with local communities throughout Asia to upscale coastal and marine environment restoration technologies to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change. Come to learn about how it works and share your own stories and adaptation technologies in the coastal and marine environment sector.

Date: Tuesday 1 September
Time: 60 minutes, starting at  @ 07:00 EDT (New York), 12:00 BST (London), 14:00 EAT (Nairobi), 16:30 IST (Delhi), 18:00 ICT (Bangkok)
Status: open to all

Read more and register for this event

  • Roundtable on NbS across Watersheds

Details: Practical Action has been helping communities and local governments in Sudan use Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) to reduce conflict and improve the ability of rural populations to cope with climate change. The approach is gaining popularity in many places where climate change is impacting on land and water. Join us to discuss how this approach can give support and momentum to the movement for more nature-based solutions.

Date: Thursday 3 September
Time: 60 minutes, starting at @ 07:00 EDT (New York), 12:00 BST (London), 14:00 EAT (Nairobi), 16:30 IST (Delhi), 18:00 ICT (Bangkok)
Status: open to everyone

Registration: This session is fully booked. You can sign-up for the waiting list in case more places become available. 

  • Roundtable on NbS in Agriculture

Details: There is growing international attention to the unerring global decline in agricultural biodiversity. Many communities and practitioner organisations are responding to this through supporting the use of so-called 'orphan crops' and a range of Farmer Managed Seed Systems. Join us to discuss how this is a nature-based solution to climate change, and how the CBA community should promote their essential experience to this global challenge. The session will be led by Practical Action who have been working on this in Zimbabwe for several years.

Date: Tuesday 8 September
Time: 60 minutes starting @ 07:00 EDT (New York), 12:00 BST (London), 14:00 EAT (Nairobi), 16:30 IST (Delhi), 18:00 ICT (Bangkok)
Status: open to everyone

Registration: This session is fully booked. You can sign-up for the waiting list in case more places become available. 

  • Roundtable on Forestry

Date: Thursday 10 September
Time: 60 minutes starting @ 07:00 EDT (New York), 12:00 BST (London), 14:00 EAT (Nairobi), 16:30 IST (Delhi), 18:00 ICT (Bangkok)
Status: open to all

Registration: This session is fully booked. You can sign-up for the waiting list in case more places become available.

Meet and greet sessions

Starting on 7 September 2020, we will host a series of informal 'meet and greets' with community-based adaptation practitioners. These will be capped to 10 participants to ensure interaction. We have scheduled sessions with Clare Shakya (IIED), Saleem Huq (ICCCAD), Fiona Percy (CARE), Tracy Kajumba (IIED), Heather McGray (CJRF), Susan Nanduddu (ACTADE), Mme Tenzin Wangmo and Ced Hesse (IIED). 

Status: Registered participants only

Registration: Participants can sign-up via the event platform

Twitter chat: CBA14 – from local solutions to global action

Join IIED and Practical Action for a Twitter chat on 8 September to discuss how to scale up local climate action. The Twitter chat will use the hashtag #CBA14.

Orientation sessions: Ask the organisers

Do you want to know more about how the programme fits together? Do you feel a bit uncomfortable with Zoom and need a refresher? Join us at one of our 'drop-ins' where you can ask organisers about how to make the most of the conference and programme. 

Dates: every Tuesday and Thursday at 13:00 (BST) to 17 September

Time: 13:00 BST

Register for this event 

CBA14 Main programme

The main conference programme runs from 21-25 September. Full details of the schedule are on the programme page.

The ecosystem approach: a holistic perspective to marine biodiversity conservation

Fri, 28/08/2020 - 06:56
A new briefing by IIED and the Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea explores the implementation of the ‘ecosystem approach’ in the international legally-binding treaty to protect marine biodiversity.

Described as a “strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources”, the ‘ecosystem approach’ recognises that humans, with their cultural diversity, are an integral component of ecosystems and promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way.

The approach has been acknowledged by those negotiating a new international treaty on the conservation of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) – areas of ocean over which no single country has authority or rights – as a key part of efforts to implement more effective and sustainable governance of the high seas. Yet, its role is still ambiguous.

The negotiators of the treaty still need to agree how the approach will be incorporated in the new treaty, and articulate clear guidance on putting it into practice.

Helpfully, a new briefing by IIED and the Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea (NCLOS) considers how the ecosystem approach should be integrated in future legislation to become an effective guidance of marine conservation.

The publication highlights four key elements on which the ecosystem approach is based:

  • Ecological integrity: the overarching aim is to preserve key functions and components of ecosystems to protect and conserve their biodiversity
  • Integration: conservation activities need to be all-inclusive and encompass ecological interdependencies and connections
  • Information: the use of detailed knowledge around ecosystems is key to assess whether a conservation plan or measure is effective, and
  • Iteration: conservation measures need to be constantly assessed in order to respond successfully to changes in the ecosystems.

“From the process’s early stages, the ‘ecosystem approach’ was identified as an invaluable tool that would help avoid fragmentation and build a global legal regime that allowed for an integrated assessment of human activities and their interactions with the marine environment,” says Vito De Lucia, an associate professor at NCLOS and author of the publication.

“However, the approach’s potential role remains unclear.”

The briefing sets out four steps that negotiators should take to ensure the effective implementation of the ecosystem approach, including how the planned new treaty should explicitly acknowledge and incorporate the social, economic and equity dimensions of the ecosystem approach.

"An ecosystem approach that stops at the jurisdictional boundary between areas within and beyond national jurisdiction falls well short of its conceptual and ecological ambitions” – Vito De Lucia

The key policy points also include the need for negotiators to ensure both national and international jurisdictions, as ecosystem boundaries traverse often jurisdictional lines. And IIED and NCLOS call for negotiators to reach a consensus on how the approach will be introduced and articulated in a new treaty, considering a coherent application and compatibility with existing treaties.

The briefing has been produced as part of IIED’s work on ensuring an inclusive blue economy.

COVID-19 highlights three pathways to achieve urban health and environmental justice

Thu, 27/08/2020 - 06:02

The pandemic is an opportunity for cities to dramatically rethink use of housing, transport and public spaces in ways that would serve all citizens, especially the socially vulnerable.

Environmental justice has many health implications, and COVID-19 is no exception.

As research has shown time and again, low income and minority communities are consistently exposed to greater environmental hazards and have less access to environmental amenities than their more affluent and white counterparts. As such, their health is often compromised and life expectancy is lower.

Cumulative social and environmental vulnerabilities combined with COVID-19 have dramatically increased the risk of infection and mortality.

While much is being said about increasing cities’ resilience to future outbreaks through measures including density reduction, pedestrianisation and urban greening, we need to analyse how inequalities shape the exposure, vulnerability, and eventually the risk and outcome of infectious diseases.

Drawing on our work at the Barcelona Lab for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability on European cities, we look at how three domains of urban infrastructure – housing, transport, and public space – can build greater urban health and environmental justice.

This is the latest blog in our series, curated by IIED senior fellow David Satterthwaite, examining different aspects of global urban change, including analysis of the social, political and environmental factors that cause cities to thrive or declineHousing

Despite lingering narratives that urban density aggravates outbreaks like COVID-19, home overcrowding and unsafe housing conditions are emerging as the real problem, coupled with socio-spatial inequalities.

In the UK this spring, the country’s five most crowded areas saw 70% more coronavirus cases than the five least crowded, where richer homeowners live in larger houses with extra bedrooms and bathrooms, reducing the risk of family infection. To prevent the spread of pandemics, cities need affordable, adequate, secure and accessible housing.

In view of the current health and economic crisis, cities and states should declare a moratorium and/or a relief on rents, mortgages, and evictions for vulnerable groups.

Housing should be greatly decommodified, as in Vienna, where it is considered a basic human right. A minimal guaranteed income should be put in place, as in Spain or The Netherlands. National governments should also reverse decade-long cuts to housing infrastructure, especially public housing, as seen in the UK.

Cities with high levels of tourism-and expat-induced gentrification, like Barcelona, should use the crisis as an opportunity to increase housing justice. In July 2020, Mayor Ada Colau announced payments of up to 1,200 euros per month to landlords who agree to house vulnerable families.

The city also plans to expropriate up to 426 flats owned by 14 corporate landlords (including BBVA bank; the UN-denounced private equity Blackstone-subsidiary Budmac; and Sareb, the government-owned 'bad bank' and asset manager) unless they are designated low-income housing units within the next months.

Transport

Public transport systems are widely regarded as transmission hotspots. Many professional workers can work remotely to avoid travelling on these systems, and the wealthiest of those who cannot are likely to turn to private modes of transport. So it is the low-income workers who have no option but to use public transport who will be most at risk of new infections.

As those travelling on public transport drops significantly (by 88% in Paris between January and April 2020), who will pay for the greater number of subway, tramway, and bus carriages and lines needed? Many mass transport systems already have crumbling infrastructure – investment is needed to achieve social equality and transport justice.

To avoid public transport, more workers are expected to commute by foot or bike. But this invites another equity question: who will be making the short commute (up to 10km)? It is those living close to their workplace who can afford city living; it is the well-off who will likely enjoy new bike and other active transport lanes that cities such as Barcelona or Milan are already building in their centres.

Those living on the peripheries do not have the luxury to commute by bike or on foot. Other affordable and low-risk solutions need to be put in place.

Public space

COVID-19 presents the chance for cities to take back public space from cars – with broader sidewalks, cycle lanes and less-congested roads. But the car lobby and industry is a powerful force in setting political agendas.

In addition, public decision-makers are aware that in the European Union alone, for instance, COVID-19 has put 1.1m automobile manufacturing jobs at risk. Cities need to move fast if they are to reconfigure the use of streets as public spaces before the car lobby strikes back.

Now is the time to act – to decongest streets (air pollution causes chronic heart and respiratory disease that can exacerbate COVID-19 cases), regain pedestrian rights, and push for safer post-COVID cities in terms of both infection and accidents.

The move toward healthy cities is likely to be accompanied by a more serious effort to make cities greener – and equitably green. In Valencia, Spain and Nantes, France, decentralised networks of small green spaces are providing residents with easy access to nature for all residents without compromising access to larger parks.

Many cities should also consider extended use of vacant spaces such as flat rooftops that can be converted into community gardens and provide more access to green space.

Shifting priorities

These are just three domains of urban infrastructure where changes to the urban environment could slow widening inequalities.

Decades of social injustices have placed low-income and minority communities at greater health risk and economic disadvantage – they now face the further burden of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences.

The urgency for change in these three domains is even greater in the global South; the environmental justice principles are valid here too, although responses must be rooted in local context and priorities.

We need to avoid the emergence and spread of pandemics as much as we need to transform our societies and cities and their underpinning unequal economic structures.

Are our cities of the future landscapes of grandiose LEED-certified buildings and privatised parks serving the elite’s interests? Or are we ensure that the existing infrastructure is repaired, strengthened and improved to serve all residents, especially the socially vulnerable?

With thanks to Helen Cole and Panagiota Kotsila for their contributions to this blog.

Q&A: Are you ready for the Dragon’s Den at CBA14?

Wed, 26/08/2020 - 13:10

Dorice Bosibori Moseti of SDI won the Dragon’s Den competition at the 2019 International Conference on Community-based Adaptation. We talked to her about what she learned, and what she has been doing since. 

For over 15 years, ther vibrant and growing community-based adaptation (CBA) community of practice has come together to develop practical, innovative, locally-driven initiatives to support communities adapt to climate change. But these initiatives need funding. 

The Dragon’s Den sessions have become a highlight at the annual conferences. Participants work in teams to develop ideas for adaption projects, create supporting business plans and learn how to make powerful investment pitches.

The sessions culminate in a competition-style plenary session where participants present their idea to a panel of people with investment experience. These ‘dragons’ ('Dragons' Den' is the name of a popular TV programme) assess the merits and viability of the pitches, seen through the eyes of investors. They offer feedback, give guidance on funding options – and pick a winner. 

Last year, it was Dorice Bosibori Moseti of Slum Dwellers International who most impressed the dragons with her waste management project 'Trash to Cash'. We caught up with Dorice to find out how her project has been developing and why she’d recommend the Dragon’s Den sessions to participants at the upcoming CBA14. 

The CBA Dragon’s Den is a key part of the 14th International Conference on Community-based Adaptation (CBA14), which will take place from 21-25 September 2020. Find out more about the programme and register.

On 2 September we’re also holding an information-sharing event that is open to everyone, and that will be hosted by the expert trainers who will be leading the Dragon’s Den at CBA14: read about the introduction to the Dragon’s Den and register.

Q: Your Trash to Cash proposal was the winner of CBA13’s Dragon’s Den. Have you been able to turn your proposal into a project? 

DBM: Yes! My Trash to Cash idea tackled the problem of unmanaged waste in the slum of Mukuru in Nairobi, Kenya where I live. Unmanaged waste leads to many problems, including polluted water and poor sanitation to name a few.

The burning of waste, especially plastic, deepens Mukuru’s air pollution problem which is a major cause of premature death and disease. In the mornings and at night, acrid toxic smoke fills the air. And as climate change brings heavier and heavier rains, drains clogged with waste cause households to flood and sewage to overflow. 

My waste management idea included ways to prevent flooding (household waste collection, sorting waste at source, cleaning drains) and recycling plastics. But that’s all it was – an idea. After I won Dragon’s Den I could see there could be real investor interest. I wanted to make this idea real. 

During the session we looked at the practicalities of funding projects – looking at different funding options and matching pitches to the right finance sources. But I realised I still had some gaps. Our group mentor said to me: “Your idea is good. How much money do you need to get this off the ground?” I didn’t know! 

I realised I needed to refine what I’d learnt and work out exactly how much I needed. I’d drafted a business plan in the Dragon’s Den sessions, but this needed tightening up. When I got back to Mukuru I enrolled on a three-month online business training course. Now I have a clear, 31-page business plan.

Q: Have you been able to raise money and develop your project? 

DBM: Our Trash to Cash business is based on a mindset shift that views trash as an opportunity to develop a viable business enterprise. The business is owned by Ladies of Hope CBO, which has 12 shareholders and is governed by a project committee. 

Our  business will offer an integrated waste management mechanism comprising waste classification, recycling, waste disposal, waste treatment, on-site management, and turning waste to energy. 

We will fully embrace the concept that is the circular economy, where companies and individuals can use our recycled products. Society can no longer exploit our scarce natural resources – as this will only lead to an unsustainable future.

Q: What did you do when you got back to Nairobi after CBA13 – how did you get people interested?   

DBM: After the CBA13 conference I was so excited that I arranged meetings with women in our community. I told them of the Trash to Cash idea and told them how we can work together. I thought it would be difficult to convince my group – it was easy and they agreed to work with me to achieve the goal. 

Q: How did you raise money through crowdfunding? 

DBM: I applied for a circular economy competition and I was selected to participate in Mombasa where we were trained to pitch and we were given an M-Pesa pay bill to crowdfund for a period of 30 days. It was hard to raise the cash, but I managed to get the US$2,000 and leap2 merged the other half. 

Q: What did you buy with the money? 

DBM: We bought 11 dust coats, gumboots, 15 spades, 25 rakes, other tools, five wheelbarrows, two carts and a store. 

Q: How many people you are working with?

DBM: Women are involved in sorting waste and we can manage to employ four women three times a week. Others come in just for one day, when we are taking out the waste to be taken to the factory.

We sort different waste carton boxes, white paper, shoes, light iron, pipes, and plastic. Our team are also involved in weekly clean-ups that we do with other community members.

Q: What did you enjoy most about the Dragon’s Den? 

DBM: The organisation of the session was great – running through the problem, thinking through the intervention, and then coming up with the solution. Then, working up your business idea and ways to make that business attractive to investors. Each of these simple and logical steps really helped frame your proposal. 

Preparing the PowerPoint presentation of my pitch was also incredibly useful – I hadn’t used PowerPoint before. When I took to the stage to present, I could talk through each aspect of my proposal. It made me realise that you can have a great idea – but you need the right documents and material to back it up. Especially when you’re standing on a stage in front of 300 people! 

It was also great getting to know the people in your group – listening to the different challenges that communities are facing, coming up with proposal ideas, working out what the funding challenges would be, how to get around them. And I learnt a lot from the mentors – they all had direct experience of working with investors and donors so had valuable insights to share.

They explained that investors need clarity on how their money will be spent and the risks. And, of course, what their potential returns will be. It was useful understanding why all this information is crucial, particularly for private investors.

Q: How did you impress the dragons? 

DBM: Climate change is exacerbating problems in Mukuru. My project can’t stop the slums from flooding when the heavy rains come, and it can’t eradicate the pollution. But it showed how communities can work together to manage waste and at the same time go some way to help manage the knock-on effects of climate change.

I had lots of questions from the dragons about my plans for involving people all across the community – particularly women and youth. They seemed impressed by this.  

Q: What was the most useful lesson from taking part?

DBM: Investors want to see the business plan. If your business plan isn’t clear, doesn’t show clear ways of making a profit, and the numbers don’t add up, no partners can invest.  

It was very clear that when you pitch you need to know who will be your customer, how much you will need in the business and what will you get from the business. And most important, what change are you bringing in and for this it was impacting on climate change mitigation by cleaning and opening rivers and drains reducing burning of waste.

Q&A: Are you ready for the Dragon’s Den?

Wed, 26/08/2020 - 13:10

Dorice Bosibori Moseti of SDI won the Dragon’s Den competition at the 2019 International Conference on Community-based Adaptation. We talked to her about what she learned, and what she has been doing since. 

For over 15 years, CBA’s vibrant and growing community of practice has come together to develop practical, innovative, locally-driven initiatives to support communities adapt to climate change. But these initiatives need funding. 

The Dragon’s Den sessions have become a conference highlight. Participants work in teams to develop ideas for adaption projects, create supporting business plans and learn how to make powerful investment pitches. The sessions culminate in a competition-style plenary session where participants present their idea to a panel of people with investment experience. These ‘dragons’ ('Dragons' Den' is the name a popular TV programme) assess the merits and viability of the pitches, seen through the eyes of investors. They offer feedback, give guidance on funding options – and pick a winner. 

Last year, it was Dorice Bosibori Moseti of SDI who most impressed the dragons with her waste management project 'Trash to Cash'. We caught up with Dorice to find out how her project has been developing and why she’d recommend the Dragon’s Den sessions to participants at the upcoming CBA14. 

The CBA Dragon’s Den is a key part of the 14th International Conference on Community-based Adaptation (CBA14) which will take place from 21-25 September 2020. Find out more about the programme and register.

On 2 September we’re also holding an information-sharing event that is open to everyone, and that will be hosted by the expert trainers who will be leading the Dragon’s Den at CBA14: read about the Introduction to the Dragon’s Den and register.

Q: Your Trash to Cash proposal was the winner of CBA13’s Dragon’s Den. Have you been able to turn your proposal into a project? 

DBM: Yes! My Trash to Cash idea tackled the problem of unmanaged waste in the slum of Mukuru in Nairobi, Kenya where I live. Unmanaged waste leads to many problems including polluted water and poor sanitation to name a few. The burning of waste, especially plastic, deepens Mukuru’s air pollution problem which is a major cause of premature death and disease. In the mornings and at night, acrid toxic smoke fills the air. And as climate change brings heavier and heavier rains, drains clogged with waste cause households to flood and sewage to overflow. 

My waste management idea included ways to prevent flooding (household waste collection, sorting waste at source, cleaning drains) and recycling plastics. But that’s all it was – an idea. After I won Dragon’s Den I could see there could be real investor interest. I wanted to make this idea real. 

During the session we looked at the practicalities of funding projects – looking at different funding options and matching pitches to the right finance sources. But I realised I still had some gaps. Our group mentor said to me: “Your idea is good. How much money do you need to get this off the ground?” I didn’t know! 

I realised I needed to refine what I’d learnt and work out exactly how much I needed. I’d drafted a business plan in the Dragon’s Den sessions, but this needed tightening up. When I got back to Mukuru I enrolled on a three-month online business training course. Now I have a clear, 31-page business plan.

Q: Have you been able to raise money and develop your project? 

DBM: Our Trash to Cash business is based on a mindset shift that views trash as an opportunity to develop a viable business enterprise. The business is owned by Ladies of Hope CBO, which has 12 shareholders and is governed by a project committee. 

Our  business will offer an integrated waste management mechanism comprising waste classification, recycling, waste disposal, waste treatment, on-site management, and turning waste to energy. 

We will fully embrace the concept that is the circular economy, where companies and individuals can use our recycled products. Society can no longer exploit our scarce natural resources -  as this will only lead to an unsustainable future.

Q: What did you do when you got back to Nairobi after CBA13 – how did you get people interested?   

DBM: After the CBA13 conference I was so excited that I arranged meetings with women in our community. I told them of the Trash to Cash idea and told them how we can work together. I thought it will be difficult to convince my group - it was easy and they agreed to work with me to achieve the goal. 

Q: How did you raise money through crowdfunding? 

DBM: I applied for a Circular Economy competition and I was selected to participate in Mombasa where we were trained to pitch and we were given Mpesa pay bill to crowdfund for a period of 30 days. It was hard to raise the cash, but I managed to get the US$2000 and leap2 merged the other half. 

Q: What did you buy with the money? 

DBM: We bought 11 dust coats, gumboots, 15 spades, 25 rakes, other tools, five wheelbarrows, two carts and a store. 

Q: How many people you are working with?

DBM: Women are involved in sorting waste and we can manage to employ four women three times a week. Others come in just for one day, when we are taking out the waste to be taken to the factory.

We sort different waste carton box, white paper, shoes, light iron, pipes, and plastic. Our team are also involved in weekly clean-ups which we do with other community members.

Q: What did you enjoy most about the Dragon’s Den? 

DBM: The organisation of the session was great – running through the problem, thinking through the intervention, and then coming up with the solution. Then, working up your business idea and ways to make that business attractive to investors. Each of these simple and logical steps really helped frame your proposal. 

Preparing the PowerPoint presentation of my pitch was also incredibly useful – I hadn’t used PowerPoint before. When I took to the stage to present, I could talk through each aspect of my proposal. It made me realise that you can have a great idea – but you need the right documents and material to back it up. Especially when you’re standing on a stage in front of 300 people! 

It was also great getting to know the people in your group – listening to the different challenges that communities are facing, coming up with proposal ideas, working out what the funding challenges would be, how to get around them. And I learnt a lot from the mentors – they all had direct experience of working with investors and donors so had valuable insights to share. They explained that investors need clarity on how their money will be spent and the risks. And, of course, what their potential returns will be. It was useful understanding why all this information is crucial, particularly for private investors.

Q: How did you impress the dragons? 

DBM: Climate change is exacerbating problems in Mukuru. My project can’t stop the slums from flooding when the heavy rains come, and it can’t eradicate the pollution. But it showed how communities can work together to manage waste and at the same time go some way to help manage the knock-on effects of climate change. I had lots of questions from the dragons about my plans for involving people all across the community – particularly women and youth. They seemed impressed by this.  

Q: What was the most useful lesson from taking part?

DBM: Investors want to see the business plan. If your business plan isn’t clear, doesn’t show clear ways of making a profit, and the numbers don’t add up, no partners can invest.  

It was very clear that when you pitch you need to know who will be your customer, how much you will need in the business and what will you get from the business. And most important, what change are you bringing in and for this it was impacting on climate change mitigation by cleaning and opening rivers and drains reducing burning of waste.

Twitter chat: CBA14: from local solutions to global action

Wed, 26/08/2020 - 10:51
Join IIED and Practical Action for a Twitter chat on 8 September to discuss how to scale up local climate action. The Twitter chat will use the hashtag #CBA14.

We are inviting the global development community to participate in a Twitter chat about driving community-based adaptation (CBA) forward. The online conversation will cover topics related to the CBA conference themes: climate finance, adaptation technology, responsive policy, nature-based solutions and youth inclusion.

CBA14 is the only conference that focuses on community-based adaptation, putting the people most vulnerable to climate change at the centre of the conversation. This year, this key event in the climate adaptation calendar will take place online, with an innovative programme focused on learning, networking and creative dialogue.

This Twitter discussion will take place two weeks before the start of the CBA14 online event. CBA14 is organised by CARE, the Climate Justice Resilience Fund, the Global Resilience PartnershipIrish AidPractical Action and IIED, in collaboration with BRAC, the Huairou CommissionGreen Africa YouthIUCN NLEnvironmental Management for Livelihood Improvement Bwaise FacilityAfrican Centre for Trade and Development and Slum Dwellers International.

The Twitter chat will be hosted by Practical Action and will use the hashtag #CBA14.

Share, comment and get involved

To join the Twitter chat, follow #CBA14 from 11am BST on 8 September.

Twitter chats are designed to stimulate international dialogue and debate around important issues.

Chat questions

To kickstart the conversation, Practical Action will tweet out a series of key questions and invite responses. The questions will be tweeted from Practical Action’s Twitter account, @PracticalAction.

The questions will be:

  • What strategies are needed to scale up climate finance so that it reaches a much broader range of vulnerable people, while still being inclusive? 
  • How can we link technology with national adaptation policy and financing plans?
  • What is the role of social movements in ensuring national policies are ambitious enough to mee the Paris Agreement? 
  • How can nature-based solutions be made to work for people, nature and climate? 
  • What is the key to ensuring young people can fully participate in shaping and delivering local climate adaptation? 
New to Twitter chats?

For people who are not familiar with Twitter chats, IIED has published a Twitter chat best practices guide (PDF). You can also read a blog on how IIED tries to get the most out of targeted online discussions.

About CBA14

CBA14 will take place online from 21-25 September 2020, and will focus on delivering dialogue and evidence to inform policy and action – from the local to the global scale.

Read more about the programme and find out how you can participate.

Introduction to the CBA14 Dragon’s Den

Tue, 25/08/2020 - 07:43

The Dragon’s Den sessions are a highlight of the International Conference on Community-based Adaptation, with participants learning how to develop and present proposals for funding for adaptation projects. Join this preview event to find out more.

Do you have a business idea for your landscape you want to develop further? Do you want to update and test your pitching skills by working together with your peers?

Or are you simply curious to know about the Dragon's Den, and want to learn and be inspired during the Dragon's Den sessions at CBA14? 

Make sure to join our introduction to the Dragon’s Den track at CBA14. In this 60-minute session, we will take you through the different components of the program consisting of the 'business canvas' – a tool for developing and testing your business idea – and training to develop your skills on pitching to donors and investors.

Our trainers Jan Willem den Besten and Romie Goedicke, of IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands, and Jesper Hornberg, of the Global Resilience Partnership, will guide you through the session with examples from their work with business canvases from around the globe. We bring the experts – all you need to do is bring your idea!

If you are planning to join the Dragon’s Den at CBA14, and already have an idea that you would like to develop into a pitch, please complete this form. This will help us to tailor the CBA14 training sessions to your specific ideas.

If you are planning to join the Dragon’s Den but do not yet have a specific idea, please simply look at the questions and consider how they might apply to your context.

Key questions
  1. What is the problem that you are trying to solve? 
  2. For whom is this a problem? 
  3. What is your solution? 
  4. How does it contribute to climate adaptation, to the Sustainable Development Goals and/or to biodiversity conservation? 
  5. Why is your solution innovative? 
  6. What financial value are you creating and who do you think will pay for it? 
  7. Can you tell us something about the team with whom you are working on this solution and your joint track record?

Based on this session you can gather your thoughts and bring your idea to CBA14 and have the chance to prove your idea’s validity in practice over the course of four in-depth and interactive sessions.

Programme
  • Introduction: 'What can you expect from the Dragon’s Den?' – Romie Goedicke, senior expert, green economy, IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands
  • Business canvas: 'How can a business canvas help you bring your ideas to reality?' – Jan Willem den Besten, senior expert, green finance, IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands
  • Pitching: 'What are the expert tips and trick to your perfect pitch?' – Jesper Hornberg, director of innovation, Global Resilience Partnership
  • Wrap up and questions – Romie Goedicke, senior expert, Green Economy, IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands

All sessions will be recorded and shared with participants so you can come back and review them at a time that suits you.

How to attend

This is an online workshop that people can attend via the internet from their desk or portable internet device.

This workshop will use the Zoom video conferencing platform. For those who have not attended a Zoom workshop before, please read this guide to how to join and participate as an attendee.

Q&A: What does the youth inclusion theme at CBA14 have in store?

Tue, 25/08/2020 - 06:04

Joshua Amponsem is leading the youth inclusion theme at the 14th annual community-based adaption event. Here he tells prospective participants why they won’t want to miss out on these lively interactive sessions.

Joshua Amponsem is founder of Green Africa Youth Organisation (GAYO), a Ghana-based youth-led advocacy group that seeks to mobilise young people to drive environmental change and community development. 

He is leading the youth track at next month’s 14th annual community-based adaption event (CBA14). These sessions will explore the question of how institutions can transform to take advantage of young people’s energy, creativity and knowledge in delivering local level adaptation.

Q: Why is it important to have youth voices leading their own theme at CBA14?

JA: At international events you’ll often see youth representatives invited to give their inputs. But, actually, the agenda has already been set, the structure of the sessions has already been decided, and the youth representative has to slot into whatever’s being discussed.

They don’t get the chance to truly express themselves or to get across issues that are important to them. Inputting in this way is limiting, frustrating and tokenistic – like a box-tick. And of course, the outcomes of the event won’t speak to young people’s needs and priorities – because they haven’t been heard. 

Another frustration is the way ‘youth’ are bundled together in one category. Yes, we might have our younger age in common – but we have different experiences, interests and aspirations. We’re studying different things, we’re working in different sectors, we have different areas of expertise. #

Discussions that invite inputs from ‘youth’ as one generic group don’t recognise these differences, and are difficult to engage with. To get younger people really involved in solution-focused discussions that can drive community adaptation, much more resource needs to go to unpacking the ‘youth’ category and understanding nuances.

It’s fantastic that one of CBA14’s five tracks is dedicated purely to young people. It will recognise youth in all its richness, and the sessions will be open for all to participate in whichever way they choose. It’s a great opportunity to unravel what’s needed to get all youth – of different ages, races, places – involved in locally-led climate adaptation.


A youth-led initiative to restore fragmented habitats and nature reserves protect and conserve biodiversity in Tarkwa, Ghana (Photo: copyright Green Africa Youth Organisation)

Q: What can young people offer to local climate action that others can’t?

JA: Climate change has deep and far-reaching consequences for everyone – we’re all vulnerable. But for young people, the ramifications run deeper. In 50 or 60 years’ time we’ll still be here. And as things stand, we’re on track to inherit a broken planet.

So climate action to limit the damage, or even turn things around to create a future where the planet and its people can thrive, really is, for young people, a matter of life or death. Young people bring a real sense of urgency to the climate debate. We want change! And the impact of youth-led climate movements over the past couple of years shows young people, with their ideas and energy, are drivers of change.

A second point is about technology. Across Africa, the uptake of technology has been intense. Take the dramatic shift to mobile devices. With the smartphone revolution, information can be accessed instantly, problems can be solved more quickly and at significantly less cost.

Young people, having grown up in this technological revolution know how to use technology and generate information to solve problems. We’re seeing more and more youth apply their technical know-how to the climate problem – and to adaptation.

For instance, in Ghana, a youth-led startup (Soil Solutions) has developed a do-it-yourself, low-tech test kit for farmers to analyse their soil for pH level, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The results are quickly matched with environmental conditions to provide farmers with the type of crop that is most suitable for them.In a rapidly changing climate, such innovations are needed to help smallholder farmers adapt to the impacts of climate change – increasing temperatures, extended dry periods, and floods among others.

Q: What do you see as the role of young people in shaping local climate action?

JA: Young people take an ambitious approach to problem-solving. In relation to climate change we’ve seen the creativity and entrepreneurial drive of youth come to the fore – setting up initiatives, NGOs and businesses that not only help tackle the climate problem but also generate green jobs.

We need to shake off ideas that the climate problem can only be solved by scientists or politicians. If you open up the space to young people, you’ll see the ideas and solutions come flooding in.

Q: Who should come along to the youth sessions at CBA4?

JA: The youth track isn’t just targeted at young people. In the sessions you’ll meet young people who are doing amazing work that others can be inspired by. However, it is the support and resource from institutions and local governments that are crucial for getting grassroots youth-led adaptation projects off the ground.

We’re trying to bridge the gap – to create a space where organisations working on adaptation can link up with young people who are working to help their communities adapt. We want to explore how these two groups can work together more effectively. It’s a fantastic opportunity to share stories, make connections and build new partnerships.


Community youth produce and supply compost from livestock and market waste to increase soil water retention during dry periods in New Edubiase, Ghana (Photo: copyright Green Africa Youth Organisation)

But this is more than just networking: institutions need to be part of these conversations. There is growing pressure from all directions – young people, the media, government, UN agencies, international NGOs and others – for institutions to demonstrate how they are proactively integrating adaptation into their policies, strategies, plans and activities.

They also need to show how they are engaging with young people to tap into their innovations and creativity in the communities where they operate, to implement adaptation to escalating climate impacts. At these sessions, institutions will hear innovative, workable youth-led adaptation solutions that they’ll be able to take back and implement in their own organisations.

Q: What do you find exciting about CBA going digital?

JA: There are two very positive things about CBA going digital. Firstly, it will dramatically open up access to the event. Financial constraints often make it difficult for young people to attend international events. More young people will be able to participate in a virtual CBA – that’s pretty exciting.

The second is the way that going digital can act as a leveller. International events can sometimes be quite formal. High-profile experts on panels or moderating the sessions can be intimidating for younger people, and they might be discouraged to stand up and speak up.

At virtual events, the physical barriers aren’t there – those who might feel shy about getting up in front of a microphone or putting their points across on stage will be more likely to speak up. And virtual events tend to be more fluid – at physical conferences, participants raise their hand and wait in the queue to be heard. But when it’s online, participants can contribute at any time.

At last month’s taster session we got a sense of how highly interactive CBA14 will be, with people getting to know each other in the chat box as soon as the session began, and the online chat stream buzzing throughout. You really felt part of the conversation as it unfolded.

Q: What’s your 30-second elevator pitch for the CBA14 youth track? 

JA: At these sessions, you’ll be able to hear innovative, workable youth-led solutions that are making a tangible difference in helping communities adapt. You’ll learn what’s working in different countries, across different contexts. And you’ll be able to draw your own conclusions from what you hear – decide what path you’ll take.

What contribution will you make to the global push to adapt to climate change, to build resilient communities and economies?

Q&A: What does the youth track at CBA14 have in store?

Tue, 25/08/2020 - 06:04

Joshua Amponsem is leading the youth track at the 14th annual community-based adaption event. Here he tells prospective participants why they won’t want to miss out on these lively interactive sessions.

Joshua Amponsem is founder of Green Africa Youth Organisation (GAYO), a Ghana-based youth-led advocacy group that seeks to mobilise young people to drive environmental change and community development. 

He is leading the youth track at next month’s 14th annual community-based adaption event (CBA14). These sessions will explore the question of how institutions can transform to take advantage of young people’s energy, creativity and knowledge in delivering local level adaptation.

Q: Why is it important to have youth voices leading their own theme at CBA14?

JA: At international events you’ll often see youth representatives invited to give their inputs. But, actually, the agenda has already been set, the structure of the sessions has already been decided, and the youth representative has to slot into whatever’s being discussed.

They don’t get the chance to truly express themselves or to get across issues that are important to them. Inputting in this way is limiting, frustrating and tokenistic – like a box-tick. And of course, the outcomes of the event won’t speak to young people’s needs and priorities – because they haven’t been heard. 

Another frustration is the way ‘youth’ are bundled together in one category. Yes, we might have our younger age in common – but we have different experiences, interests and aspirations. We’re studying different things, we’re working in different sectors, we have different areas of expertise. #

Discussions that invite inputs from ‘youth’ as one generic group don’t recognise these differences, and are difficult to engage with. To get younger people really involved in solution-focused discussions that can drive community adaptation, much more resource needs to go to unpacking the ‘youth’ category and understanding nuances.

It’s fantastic that one of CBA14’s five tracks is dedicated purely to young people. It will recognise youth in all its richness, and the sessions will be open for all to participate in whichever way they choose. It’s a great opportunity to unravel what’s needed to get all youth – of different ages, races, places – involved in locally-led climate adaptation.


A youth-led initiative to restore fragmented habitats and nature reserves protect and conserve biodiversity in Tarkwa, Ghana (Photo: copyright Green Africa Youth Organisation)

Q: What can young people offer to local climate action that others can’t?

JA: Climate change has deep and far-reaching consequences for everyone – we’re all vulnerable. But for young people, the ramifications run deeper. In 50 or 60 years’ time we’ll still be here. And as things stand, we’re on track to inherit a broken planet.

So climate action to limit the damage, or even turn things around to create a future where the planet and its people can thrive, really is, for young people, a matter of life or death. Young people bring a real sense of urgency to the climate debate. We want change! And the impact of youth-led climate movements over the past couple of years shows young people, with their ideas and energy, are drivers of change.

A second point is about technology. Across Africa, the uptake of technology has been intense. Take the dramatic shift to mobile devices. With the smartphone revolution, information can be accessed instantly, problems can be solved more quickly and at significantly less cost.

Young people, having grown up in this technological revolution know how to use technology and generate information to solve problems. We’re seeing more and more youth apply their technical know-how to the climate problem – and to adaptation.

For instance, in Ghana, a youth-led startup (Soil Solutions) has developed a do-it-yourself, low-tech test kit for farmers to analyse their soil for pH level, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The results are quickly matched with environmental conditions to provide farmers with the type of crop that is most suitable for them.In a rapidly changing climate, such innovations are needed to help smallholder farmers adapt to the impacts of climate change – increasing temperatures, extended dry periods, and floods among others.

Q: What do you see as the role of young people in shaping local climate action?

JA: Young people take an ambitious approach to problem-solving. In relation to climate change we’ve seen the creativity and entrepreneurial drive of youth come to the fore – setting up initiatives, NGOs and businesses that not only help tackle the climate problem but also generate green jobs.

We need to shake off ideas that the climate problem can only be solved by scientists or politicians. If you open up the space to young people, you’ll see the ideas and solutions come flooding in.

Q: Who should come along to the youth sessions at CBA4?

JA: The youth track isn’t just targeted at young people. In the sessions you’ll meet young people who are doing amazing work that others can be inspired by. However, it is the support and resource from institutions and local governments that are crucial for getting grassroots youth-led adaptation projects off the ground.

We’re trying to bridge the gap – to create a space where organisations working on adaptation can link up with young people who are working to help their communities adapt. We want to explore how these two groups can work together more effectively. It’s a fantastic opportunity to share stories, make connections and build new partnerships.


Community youth produce and supply compost from livestock and market waste to increase soil water retention during dry periods in New Edubiase, Ghana (Photo: copyright Green Africa Youth Organisation)

But this is more than just networking: institutions need to be part of these conversations. There is growing pressure from all directions – young people, the media, government, UN agencies, international NGOs and others – for institutions to demonstrate how they are proactively integrating adaptation into their policies, strategies, plans and activities.

They also need to show how they are engaging with young people to tap into their innovations and creativity in the communities where they operate, to implement adaptation to escalating climate impacts. At these sessions, institutions will hear innovative, workable youth-led adaptation solutions that they’ll be able to take back and implement in their own organisations.

Q: What do you find exciting about CBA going digital?

JA: There are two very positive things about CBA going digital. Firstly, it will dramatically open up access to the event. Financial constraints often make it difficult for young people to attend international events. More young people will be able to participate in a virtual CBA – that’s pretty exciting.

The second is the way that going digital can act as a leveller. International events can sometimes be quite formal. High-profile experts on panels or moderating the sessions can be intimidating for younger people, and they might be discouraged to stand up and speak up.

At virtual events, the physical barriers aren’t there – those who might feel shy about getting up in front of a microphone or putting their points across on stage will be more likely to speak up. And virtual events tend to be more fluid – at physical conferences, participants raise their hand and wait in the queue to be heard. But when it’s online, participants can contribute at any time.

At last month’s taster session we got a sense of how highly interactive CBA14 will be, with people getting to know each other in the chat box as soon as the session began, and the online chat stream buzzing throughout. You really felt part of the conversation as it unfolded.

Q: What’s your 30-second elevator pitch for the CBA14 youth track? 

JA: At these sessions, you’ll be able to hear innovative, workable youth-led solutions that are making a tangible difference in helping communities adapt. You’ll learn what’s working in different countries, across different contexts. And you’ll be able to draw your own conclusions from what you hear – decide what path you’ll take.

What contribution will you make to the global push to adapt to climate change, to build resilient communities and economies?

CBA14: Become a partner!

Fri, 21/08/2020 - 09:57

Our partners contribute expertise, strategic thinking and financial support.

The international conferences on Community-based Adaptation to Climate Change (CBA) are organised in partnership and form part of a wider programme of work focused on CBA.

Supporting the annual conference

The annual CBA conferences use a format that is innovative and interactive, including varied and participatory sessions and workshops that facilitate dialogue and learning on the most current adaptation challenges.

We host discussions about resilience and adaptation between practitioners, community representatives, local and national government planners, researchers, policymakers and donors with a focus on the global South. These conversations are rooted in the lived experience of climate risks, and hard-won practitioner and communities’ experience in responding to them - and are essential to shaping the policies and programmes that will be most effective in addressing the triple challenge of poverty reduction, climate change and biodiversity loss.

Conference participants can build their understanding of the opportunities for and challenges to delivering effective programmes and creating enabling environments for them while responding to changing international agendas.

Conference aims

The conferences bring together the CBA community that is collectively seeking to reimagine solutions that enable transformative outcomes through the agency of communities driving climate action. It provides an innovative and interactive space that enables the network to drive global ambition for a climate-resilient future through:

  • inclusive, gender-transformative and meaningful engagement
  • sharing and collaborating around good practice and challenging assumptions
  • drawing on evidence to inform the scalability of effective approaches, and
  • influencing and shaping decision making processes.
Becoming a partner

There are numerous ways in which partners can support the conference, both financially or in-kind. Partners can contribute to core costs or specific elements of the conference, such as a sponsorship scheme for young people or women in leadership, the capacity building training track, the youth-led programme, and the Dragon’s Den, amongst others. The partner financial support helps us expand our outreach, cover the costs of the online platform and tools and most importantly, makes the sponsorship scheme possible. Financial support also helps to support the secretariat in developing the international CBA network and helps us keep the community active throughout the year.

Through sponsorships, we support representatives of community-based organisations, small NGOs, students and local government officials based and working in the global South to attend the conferences to ensure the right people are at the table. Our sponsorship scheme has a focus on women and young people. The participation and engagement of these stakeholders are integral to the conference aims. 

Depending on your level of support, your organisation will join as a host partner or as a contributing partner, who set the direction of the conference and the conference programme. Moreover, your organisation will gain presence and recognition, through

  • acknowledgement and logo on the CBA14 platform before, during and after the conference;
  • a dedicated space to promote your work on the virtual conference platform as well as a logo banner throughout the platform;
  • promotion in our event publications through logo and credit; your logo featured in the official conference programme, and throughout social media channels; and
  • your logo featured in the conference holding slides for all sessions.

We do not provide partners and donors dedicated speaking slots because the conference programme is developed and led by the community of practitioners and partners. We are, however, happy to connect you with theme leads to enable you to get involved in session development.

By purchasing ten CBA14 registrations priced at the ‘solidarity fee’ your organisation will be acknowledged as a sponsoring partner on the conference platform. Sponsoring partners contribute to our goal of widening access to CBA conferences by contributing to our ‘solidarity fund’ for sponsored places.  

Financial support for the conference can be tailored to meet the needs of your organisation.  

As the conference programme develops, space for new partners to shape the agenda narrows. For this reason, we encourage potential partners to get in touch and get involved as soon as possible: please email CBA programme manager Teresa Sarroca (teresa.sarroca@iied.org) to find out more. 

Supporting the wider programme of work

Over 15 years, CBA conferences have helped to build a community of practice that includes community representatives, academics, local and national governments as well as national and international NGOs, and our programme of work has grown beyond the annual conferences.

The CBA work programme aims to link the annual CBA conferences to other key events and policy processes to ensure that critical messages reach target audiences.

It seeks to ensure that the knowledge and experience held by the CBA community can inform climate change responses at all scales. In particular, it is vital for policymakers, NGOs and funders to recognise the priorities and lived experience of the most vulnerable people at the frontline of climate change. This will also facilitate greater cross-sectoral partnerships and expertise, enabling practitioners from the global south to lead and shape climate action.

Our aim is to strengthen links to policymakers and target policy-relevant discussions, ensure evidence generation includes southern-led research agendas and bottom-up priorities and widen access to the CBA events and local representation of lived experiences.

Partners who contribute to CBA for more than one year form part of the Steering Group, which provides strategic direction to the wider CBA programme of work. 

About our partners

CBA14 is funded by the Climate Justice Resilience Fund, Irish Aid and IIED, and organised with co-hosts CARE, the Global Resilience Partnership and Practical Action, in collaboration with the contributing partners BRAC, the Huairou Commission, Green Africa Youth, IUCN NL, Environmental Management for Livelihood Improvement Bwaise Facility, African Centre for Trade and Development and Slum Dwellers International.

The CBA Steering Group is led by CARE, the Climate Justice Resilience Fund, the Global Resilience Partnership, Irish Aid, Practical Action and IIED. 

CBA14: explore with us how nature-based solutions support local action for adaptation

Fri, 21/08/2020 - 06:45

The ‘nature-based solutions’ track at next month’s 14th annual community-based adaptation event will explore how nature’s ‘services’ can support local communities to manage the impacts of climate change.

Nature-based solutions (NbS) – whether at local, national or global level – are attracting unprecedented attention among policymakers as strategies for responding and adapting to the climate crisis.

At next month’s 14th annual community-based adaption event (CBA14) NbS will be one of the conference’s five key ‘tracks’. Over the five days, online participants will explore how nature-based solutions can be made to work for people, nature and climate.

So what are NbS? They are approaches inspired and supported by nature that help to address environmental, social and economic challenges. They range from restoring coastal ecosystems that can protect people and places against the impacts of storms, to natural pollinators in agriculture, to creating green roofs in cities to reduce urban heat effects.

Climbing the policy agenda

In a powerful clip released in September 2019, in the lead up to the UN Secretary General’s Climate Change Summit in New York, activist Greta Thunberg and journalist George Monbiot called on the world to 1) protect, 2) restore and 3) fund action for nature, noting "lots of solutions are talked about, but what about a solution that is right in front of us?".

Following the summit, the NbS Coalition led by China and New Zealand released an NbS for Climate Manifesto (PDF), billed as a plan to “unlock the full potential of nature for climate action”.

NbS are also increasingly part of national action plans and commitments for tackling climate change, especially in developing countries. Two-thirds of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement (PDF) include NbS as a way for countries to work towards their climate change mitigation and/or adaptation goals. And all low-income countries included NbS in their NDCs.

How communities are using NbS to adapt

So NbS are making their way on to the policy radar. But how can they accelerate adaptation to climate change for the communities that need it most?

Many of nature’s services underpin human wellbeing and support the resilience of communities, including the poorest, to climate change and other crises. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, almost 70% of the estimated 1.1 billion people living in poverty depend directly on the productivity of ecosystems for their livelihoods (PDF).

NbS recognise these dependencies and are increasingly used by a variety of sectors and actors to address climate hazards. Based on a recent review (PDF) of around 100 cases, most NbS for adaptation are in the rural livelihoods and food security sector. Urban communities are also adopting NbS to mitigate climate-related flooding, drought and heat.

And NbS are bringing tangible results. A study to empirically evaluate the effectiveness of 13 on-the-ground NbS for adaptation projects around the world showed improvements in community resilience in all 13 sites. Communities increased their adaptive capacity in livelihood and crop diversification, improved knowledge and capacity, reduced disaster risk, and strengthened governance.

Case study: integrating NbS in river basin management in Thailand

Uptake of NbS will ultimately depend on communities and other stakeholders at local and governmental level seeing the benefits.

In Thailand, ‘living weirs’ (weirs made from bamboo and the wide-flung roots of banyan trees) and ‘monkey cheeks’ (natural retention areas to store excess water) are common water management approaches using ecosystem services and community knowledge.

Yet the perceived benefits for communities and the environment have not been assessed in a systematic way.

A joint research partnership with five Thai universities led by the Thai lead water agency, the Office of Natural Water Resources, and supported by the water component of GIZ’s Thai-German Climate Programme, is developing a framework for the systematic monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of the impacts of NbS applied in Thai water management.

To effectively anchor the approach at local level, communities will be encouraged and trained to engage in the M&E, thereby enhancing their stewardship of NbS measures.

These efforts reflect the aim of Thailand’s water sector to step up its adaptation efforts, and deploy NbS for ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) more widely. To this end, strong emphasis is put on integrating EbA into key planning processes at river basin level.  

Based on a climate and vulnerability analysis and a multi-stakeholder process involving river basin committees and community leaders, a range of options for climate-sensitive flood and drought risk management will be integrated into the river basin master plans in the pilot basins of Yom river in the north, and Sakaekrang river in the lower northwest of Thailand.

A code of practice tailored for water management practitioners will guide the design and implementation of NbS measures and will be complemented by the M&E framework to provide a holistic and community-based NbS approach in Thailand’s water sector.

Why join the NbS track at CBA14?

CBA14 will provide a platform for community representatives and other participants to share stories like the one from Thailand. The stories shared and partnerships forged during the conference will build momentum for applying NbS to some of the world’s biggest challenges including:

  • Working with nature to make communities more resilient not only to climate risks but to build back better from COVID-19
  • Using community-championed nature-based adaptation technologies to make real change on the ground, and
  • Supporting community-based organisations to channel finance to scale up local solutions that are environmentally friendly and equitable.

Both the 10-year post-2020 global biodiversity framework set to be adopted at the next Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) and discussions at the UN climate summit (COP26) next year will likely include a focus on increasing the uptake of NbS.

We need to learn from grassroot experiences to translate the global ambitions of NbS into tangible actions that can, simultaneously, conserve biodiversity, reduce poverty and combat climate change.

Displacement and the pandemic

Wed, 19/08/2020 - 06:53

In our fifth report on emerging lessons from COVID-19, published to coincide with World Humanitarian Day on 19 August, we look at how the pandemic is affecting displaced people.

Beyond COVID-19: grassroots visions of change

This article is part of a new IIED series that offers forward-looking responses on key themes during the pandemic, drawing on our partners' insights and providing a platform for voices from the global South.

Here, Deena Dajani looks at how COVID-19 intensifies the risks refugees and displaced people face as they struggle to build dignified lives.

The myth of the pandemic as the 'great equaliser' – a disease that transcends class, power, and privilege ­– was an attractive one, touted in media coverage and by politicians, implying a possibility of a shared experience across a structurally unequal world.

Myths, as attractive as they are, are feeble attempts to understand the continuities and discontinuities of inequality: the persistence of old forms of inequality and their re-emergence in intensified forms.

In this report, we aim to trace some of these continuities and discontinuities in refugee lives. We focus on displaced persons’ experiences of the pandemic, as an intensification of pre-existing forms of exclusion, and on how multiple and overlapping vulnerabilities need to be understood as compounding risks.

Refugees crossing borders

With the spread of the pandemic, refugees and displaced people found themselves encountering new barriers. Yet more Rohingya refugees died at sea, denied refuge by Malaysia and Thailand as a COVID-19 “preventative measure”. The US government has “indefinitely” effectively sealed the country to refugee resettlement citing “risks of infection from foreigners”.

Across Africa, tens of thousands of displaced people and migrants found themselves in dangerous situations in ports and transit camps as states shut borders to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The weaponisation of a global health crisis to further restrict the routes of refuge offers a stark reminder of what remains unaddressed: the need for an inclusive, just and shared international response to refugee hosting and protection.

Urban refugees

Most displaced people today live in urban areas, generally receiving little or no assistance from the UN or national governments. As Lucy Earle writes, urban refugees are often conveniently assumed to be ‘self-reliant’, an assumption that ignores the multiple risks and vulnerabilities they face, including the difficulty of securing paid work, accessing shelter, healthcare and education.

Urban refugees experience xenophobia frequently, but under COVID-19 the sentiment started to appear in official state responses. In South Africa, Jordan (Arabic website) and India refugees were excluded from COVID-19 social protection programming, including relief packages - despite refugees having no recourse to any humanitarian assistance.

As IIED’s partners SDI Kenya relay in a video produced for this report by their youth group KYCTV, a lack of documentation and appropriate paperwork is a constant obstacle for refugees in Nairobi. 

During the pandemic, this took on new intensity: the lack of documentation meant refugees could not benefit from any food distribution or emergency cash relief programmes. 

Watch KYCTV’s video below and on IIED's YouTube channel 

These interviews are taken from a documentary by KYCTV that explores issues of displacement and reception in the Mathare informal settlement in Nairobi. A trailer for the documentary will be published on 21 August 2020.

The collapse of the informal economy as a result of national lockdowns has hit urban refugees hard, most especially the undocumented. As Robert Hakiza, from the refugee-led organisation Young African Refugees for Integral Development (YARID), explains in another video below, “refugees are more worried about hunger than COVID-19”.

This video is also available on IIED's YouTube channel

Hakiza also reported that YARID has noticed a change in the requests for help and support coming from their community. He says: “People who used to secure their own food and shelter and used to approach us for skills training and education opportunities are now calling us asking for food."

Displacement and the pandemic is the story of how communities live and support each other with minimal resources, in daily struggles “where ‘crisis’ and the ‘everyday’ are not so neatly separable”. What Hakiza’s experience so valuably offers is an understanding of how, in contexts of continuous struggle, the smallest of changes in economic or social environments can have compounding effects.

This is yet another reminder that far from myths of ‘equalising experiences’, an inclusive response to COVID-19 requires us to attend to the legal, political and practical barriers that have long limited the capacity of refugees to build dignified lives.

Resources:

COVID-19 and forced displacement in the Middle East and East Africa, background paper published on the Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform

Infographics for COVID-19: supporting forcibly displaced people in the Middle East and East Africa, published on the Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform

Challenges to refugee protection in the time of COVID-19, blog by Liliana Lyria Jubilut

Bringing urban refugees into local planning, blog by Lucy Earle, IIED

The rights and health of refugees, migrants and stateless must be protected in COVID-19 response, joint press release by OHCHR, IOM, UNHCR and WHO

How WHO is supporting refugees and migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic, feature

Global call to action for inclusion of migrants and refugees in the COVID-19 response, article by Mirian Orcutt et al, The Lancet

COVID-19 and the displaced, a compilation by Refugees International

Read more:

Our collection about coronavirus examines some of the emerging impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the people and places where we work.